Former UNGA President calls for urgent reform on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’
Former United Nations General Assembly President and Serbian Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremić, was the recent guest on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ with Adil Cader.
Mr. Jeremić opens up on Serbian Foreign Policy, and reforms within the United Nations. He offers insights from the 2016 UN Secretary-General selection process, of which he was one of the front runners.
The two also discuss his early career, international treaties and contemporary international issues. Reflecting on his experience at university, Mr. Jeremić recollects that it was hard for him to explain that he came from Serbia but was not a “children eating radical”. He adds that the public discourse around Serbia at that time was a one-sided black and white, where he found himself in the black corner. This, he explains, was around the same time as NATO’s intervention in Serbia.
Moving forward, the host Adil Cader talks about the 2016 secretary-general selection which was a big change with the introduction of a candidates’ debate. Mr. Jeremić adds that it was a step in the right direction because all the previous selection processes were “totally non-transparent”. Whereas in 2016, there was a formal presentation of all the candidates in the General Assembly and the member states could ask them all kinds of questions. Mr. Jeremić recounts answering “some 80 questions one after another”. Mr. Vuk Jeremić also touches upon Kosovo. “My term as Foreign Minister was really dominated by the issue of Kosovo. I have come to be known as someone who has fought vigorously in a diplomatic way against the attempt at instituting and legitimising Kosovo’s independence”. He further reflects upon the impact of the pandemic on the diplomatic processes. On the position and relevance of the UN, he remarks, “There will be no UN. The UN is going to lose its relevance in the face of developments and challenges that humanity is facing in the 21st century.”
“The coronavirus crisis only exacerbated the geopolitical recession that we had already entered.”
Vuk Jeremić was president of the 67th United Nations General Assembly session and was Serbian Foreign Minister from 2007 – 2012. In 2016, he was a candidate for UN Secretary General, finishing with the joint second-highest number of votes behind eventual winner António Guterres.
Talking Foreign Affairs has interviewed several World Leaders, from a UN Secretary-General to Heads of State, from Nobel Laureates to those who have led mission-critical organisations like the WTO, World Bank and NASA.
Adil Cader specialises in Australian Foreign Policy and Global Diplomacy. He is a Pacific Forum Young Leader, a Board Member of the Australia-Pacific Youth Dialogue and is actively involved with diplomacy education.